Tuesday, December 26, 2017

My Vanguard & Magnet School Advice

As the mother of two kids who are in Vanguard and Magnet schools, I am often asked questions by soon to be and new parents. They want to know how they can send their kids to good schools inside the loop (or close to it) without having to pay for private school or having to move to the suburbs. Here are links to some of my top blogs with advice on how to navigate the Houston Independent School District Vanguard and Magnet system. 

The Kids and I, Seth is in 8th grade at Hamilton in Vanguard and Miranda is a junior at DeBakey H.S.

If you have a child starting Kindergarten the Fall of 2018 you've missed the application deadline- it was in December. You'll have to check with HISD if they have a second phase application for Kindergarten. I'm not sure about that.

If you have a child starting Kindergarten the Fall of 2019 the application is due in December of 2018. Start drilling him or her on their alphabet, sounds, colors, shapes, now because they will have to take the Vanguard test January or February of 2019. That's only one year away! My best advice on this. Buy those workbooks at Walgreens and CVS in the book/magazine area. They were great for teaching the kids the basics and inexpensive.

My personal experience

Elementary School

The Vanguard Test when they are 4 years old (for Kinder)

Middle School

Second Phase Application

High School Application

The Kinkaid EMSI program- a well kept secret. 

Not everything is always rosy. If you aren't lucky enough to have a child attending a Vanguard or Magnet school, things can be tough. Or if your child has a special education challenge. Here is my experience when Miranda went on to middle school and Seth had to leave a really good elementary school to go to our neighborhood school because his sibling transfer wasn't renewed, before he was in Vanguard.

Note: I added one more at 3:30 p.m. about high schools.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Roof Over Our Heads & Other Things

Hurricane Harvey came and flooded thousands of homes in Houston. I was very fortunate that I wasn't one of those homes. However a day or two after the storm, as we continued to have rain, a piece of my kitchen ceiling came crashing down. I had a weak spot on my roof and the rain was too much for it. I knew I needed a new roof but I had been putting it off. Harvey forced me to make an important decision; to sell my house or to stay in it at least until Seth graduates. I chose to stay.

Jar of Happiness to be Opened on New Year's Eve

The home and property values have really gone up in our neighborhood and I'm constantly being approached by people asking if my house is for sale. I know that I'm sitting on a huge lot and a half, and that they aren't looking at my house. They're looking at my property size and the fact that I'm on a corner. These buyers can build two tall town houses on my lot to sell for double the amount they are probably trying to offer me. However I don't know that I'm ready to sell. Miranda graduates from high school in a year and a half and Seth in five. So I decided to roof the house and stay for 5 more years. 

I told the kids that the saying, "All you need is a roof over your head," is very true. Think about it. If you have a roof over your head, protecting you from the rain and inclement weather, you don't need anything else. All your possessions inside your house and you are safe. So I fixed the roof to have a roof over our heads and everything else will fall into place. Who knows, maybe I'll make more money this year and I'll be able to progressively fix the house. 

The kids and I started this "Jar of Happiness" in January. Every time something good happens we write it down and put it in the jar. Miranda and I do it a little more than Seth, I have to remind him to do it, but we do. This year we have a lot to be happy about. 

In June I received a promotion and more pay to move over to another team as an Account Manager. It's been a whirlwind 6 months but I love it. I'm definitely challenged more on this account desk and it's stretching me professionally. I've also been chosen recently as our team's mentor for new team members. I'm really excited to have this leadership role on our team.

When I decided to roof the house and to stay here a friend of my ex-husband, who didn't even know me, offered some extra help to roof the house. I am forever grateful for the kindness of this man and for my ex husband who over-saw the whole thing and did a lot of work himself. He's been replacing the wood trim all around my house, which isn't easy work. He's a great co-parent!

There are a lot of other things that happened in between. Daddy had seven falls in a row, almost one every other week. He went through a few weeks of physical therapy and he's doing much better. One of his legs was weaker than the other but the physical therapy really worked. Grateful for the wonderful physical therapist Shannon. Daddy turns 94 in March, God willing. 

As we got closer to the end of the year I finally got to meet my beautiful great-niece Kindread last weekend. I was so in love with that beautiful girl! She looks like a mix between her mama and her daddy. She shares her daddy's and my curly hair and our under-bite. Too cute!

Yesterday I received another wonderful gift. My beautiful, favorite niece (and only one) had a baby boy and named him Nicholas after his great-grandfather. You could tell my dad was pleased because when I showed him a picture he said, "Is that my tocayo?" Tocayo is the Spanish word for someone who has the same name. 

So here I am at the end of another year. It's been a long time since I blogged because I've been experiencing a little bit of writer's block. I have been so very overwhelmed and trying to over come a lot of the anxiety that I mentioned in my last post. Things have been better and I'm hanging in there. 

I have a lot of plans for the new year. Some of the same ones I've  had in the past. I want to eat better, exercise more, refinance my house, work on my finances and get my kids through the second semester. 

High school applications were filed in time for the boy and we find out where he was accepted around Spring Break. I didn't write about it this year but yes, we applied to DeBakery, Carnegie for Vanguard, Lamar and Heights. The boy has been doing really well! He's taking 9th grade Algebra and Science. 

Once we get him off to high school it will be time to start college applications for the girl. Hard to believe. I have a blogs on here when I was applying for elementary school for Miranda! Next year this time I'll be in the thick of college applications with her!

Yes, we have a lot to be grateful for. Our health, a roof over our heads and wonderful brains in these two kids. I'm happy.